Pontotoc’s newest 4-H agent is a familiar face around here. Jane Austin Chamblee has been hired to fill the position of retiring agent Sherry Thompson. She will also help in the role of extension agent since Beth Youngblood has also retired.
Chamblee’s first days on the job was during the last two days of the fair. She is no stranger to 4-H because she grew up in it.
“Mrs. Louise Daniels was who taught me in 4-H. She taught us manners and etiquette; how to walk with a book on our head and bicycle safety,” Chamblee said. She smiled broadly at the memories of yesteryear. “The fairgrounds were up there by the American Legion at the time. Town stopped during the fair because everybody went to the fair.
“Back then everything was held in the wide open. Fairest of the fair was in the arena where they did the rodeo later in the week.”
She when to work for Harry Patterson at the Soil conservation in 2007 then became the nutritionist at the Pontotoc County Extension in 2009. But then last September an opening came up for a community wellness planner in Columbus.
“They told me there was a greater need there so I went. My husband and I planned on moving there this year, but we couldn’t get our house completely ready to go on the market for some reason. And this opened up,” she smiled. “My daddy cried when I told him I was coming here to be the agent.
The daughter of Charles and Betty Austin, she graduated from Pontotoc High School in 1978 then went Delta State University and got her degree advertising.
Along the way she met the love of her life, B.J. Chamblee and to this union was born Molly, twins Jake and Logan and Mabry. The twins are married, Logan and Holly live out west and Jake lives in Tennessee. He and his wife Michelle, are expecting their first boy in November. She smiled, “Yes, I’m going to be a grandmother.”
She is excited about being the 4-H agent because she believes in what it does to help the young people who get involved in it.
“It teaches them to work together as a team. There is competition for cooking and interior design, robotics, just any thing imaginable. They are learning to help and work with each other and be leaders.”
She stopped and thought for a moment.
“I think about my daughter Molly, she spent the night with her friend, Allison Tutor one night. She called and said she was going to 4-h with her. When she came home and said she was going to judge swine, and we didn’t have a pig or a pen.” Chamblee laughed. “But that got her started and she came out of her shell because of 4-H. Now he has a degree in Agriculture. I never would have believed she would have taken that route for her career. The 4-H clubs open up a whole new world for those who participate in it.”
Chamblee said another plus when it comes to being involved in 4-H is the trips.
“The horticulture group has won the state competition and they will go to Lincoln, Nebraska. They may never ever go back to that city, but this will open their eyes to a place beyond Pontotoc.”
Although Chamblee readily admits she is standing in a giant shadow cast by Sherry Thompson, “I’m coming in on he coat tails of someone who has been here 21 years. It’s a little overwhelming. But I’m going to enjoy watching the children make friends and succeed.”
Chamblee can be reached at the MSU Pontotoc Extension Service at 489-3910 if you have any questions.